Episode 1: Don't Believe The Hype

In this inaugural episode of Difficult Conversations About Beauty (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly) Podcast, I will share why you should very rarely believe the hype that cosmetic clinics and practitioners spread daily on their social media platforms.

Instead, I'll tell you

  • What healthcare professionals are allowed to do.
  • Examples of the types of deceit that seem to be occurring and why we're falling for it.
  • And finally, How best to conduct research on cosmetic medicine clinics and everyday life.

The recent expose on ABC's four corners episode called; Cosmetic Cowboys uncovered allegations of troubling practices across a Dr's multiple day hospital settings. Which I encourage you to watch if you haven't already.

Don't get me wrong, watching the show greatly affected me to the point where at one point, I started crying. When the Dr was talking to the camera rather than watching the tip of their cannula while performing liposuction, I cried because his actions could have seriously harmed the unconscious patient he was operating on. But, unfortunately, purporting the image of being a busy and popular surgeon seemed more important to the Dr than actually behaving like a professional and caring Dr who valued ethical and safe care.

But I was also aware that background music and scathing reports that bookended this footage added to the scene's horror. Remember, tv shows like Insta famous Drs have ratings they want to achieve, too. So, don't always believe the hype. However, in this instance, there was more than one damning piece of footage.

My reason for making this topic my inaugural episode is because last week, 2 of my patients revealed to me that they were booked in to see the Dr featured on this four corners show. When I questioned what led them to choose this particular Dr and this particular medical establishment, they told me it was because of the hype. Because of his huge online social media presence, his massive number of social media followers, and the fact that he had appeared on multiple tv shows, selling the benefits of him and his procedures.

This Dr like many practitioners today in the space of cosmetic enhancement, has a substantial online presence. With millions of TikTok followers and hundreds upon hundreds of positive online reviews.

One of the Dr's patients featured in the four corners show states that she chose the Dr's clinic because of the media hype. She says, "I scoured Google reviews, looking for something negative and there only were glowing reviews, and now when I look back at it, those reviews don't make sense.' SMH 11/11/21

"In the research for my next book, a recent survey I conducted, I asked teens if they could tell the difference between real and fake news; 70% said they couldn't. While I haven't completed the same research with adults, I suspect the number is not too dissimilar. Why – firstly. Because when you have video footage or documentation of someone talking about doing the thing they profess to be an expert in, you believe them.

Secondly – because when you see that person, everywhere and I mean everywhere in the space they are professing to be an expert in, guess what, that just reinforces your belief that they are an expert in the field.

Thirdly, when you see before and after images (edited or not) that show the surgical procedure having worked.

And lastly, reviews, good old reviews, or should I say sometimes fake reviews.

In the world of health care and medicine, it's illegal for us to post reviews on platforms that we control. For example, we are in control of the content we put on our social media. Therefore we are not allowed to have reviews of us as practitioners or reviews from patients about specific treatments they have undergone with us. This is why most healthcare professionals very sensibly turn off the review function on their social media platforms.

The extent of our review that we are allowed to have, goes like this… I attended Anita East Medispa, and the reception area smelt like roses, and the temperature was pleasant. So that, folks, is it.

No, ‘I went to clinic b and had my lips done. They are the best lips I've ever had. Eek!’

That kind of review is illegal and Ahpra (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) and the TGA (therapeutic goods administration) doesn't take kindly to it and have strict advertising guidelines.

Why?- because you are attempting to lure new business on the back of a gushing post about a schedule 4 medicine. We aint America where they can advertise high blood pressure medication on tv adverts. The TGA do a pretty good job of telling us what we should do. Not all clinics abide by these rules though, which is a shame. Personally, I'd rather sleep at night than be worried about a knock on my door and subsequent fine or condition from either Ahpra or the TGA.

Back to reviews. However, google reviews are another ball game. The business has no control over what people post on here. Hence, why some disgruntled customers write scathing reviews about their hot chips being too hot, or their fast food coming out too fast. Or even make up bad reviews to harm the business. I know, hard to believe, but sadly, some people have too much time and not a lot of sense.

Google reviews can also be incentivised, and there is some discussion that this happened with the Dr highlighted on the ABC Four Corners program.

I have one very strong opinion about the concerns that the Four Corners program highlighted, and I've had these concerns for many years. I write about them in detail in my book, Beautiful Unique Faces.

If you want to be an actor, if you want to be a performer or an influencer, either go to drama school, become an actor or tv presenter, or get yourself onto a reality tv show. But if you're a nurse or if you're a doctor, learn your craft, get better at your craft, but don't let the thrill of the spotlight pull you away from caring for your patients and failing to perform safe and ethical medical procedures. Just don't.

You promised to do no harm, then do no harm to your patients both physically and psychologically. That means respecting them and not lying to them for the sake of money and fame.

It drives me bonkers seeing befores and afters plastered everywhere on social media. With an accompanying gushing post from a patient who states that their 'new' lips have made them the happiest, they've ever been. Guess what? Once that dopamine hit fades, that patient is not only going to come down from that hit with a thundering crash, but they'll start to look for their next hit. In the guise of a new chin, a new set of cheeks, a new jawline and some new fox eyes or whatever your favourite cosmetic medicine influencer is touting at the time.

Also, showing befores and after of only one facial feature is unfair. For example, showing a set of lips only and not the whole person's face, does nothing but contribute to this idea that facial features can be bought separately like ingredients in your smoothie.

So what can you do to avoid this?

Do your due diligence. The case of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is currently going through the courts in America. But, unfortunately, the overwhelmingly common admission made by each of the investors who, after being convinced by Elizabeth Holme's sales pitch, gave Theranos $724 million was that they didn't do their due diligence. They didn't do their checks; they didn't talk to the right people who could give them unbiased opinions about whether Theranos was legitimate or not. Instead, they simply got swept up in the hype because they didn't want to miss out on what seemed like an investment opportunity that was too good to be true."

In a quick fix and instant gratification society, we believe that due diligence means looking at someone's social media channel and reading google reviews. It's not that people are gullible and foolish; it's that we simply want to believe what we are told.

"I was recently at the receiving end of a business scam. Someone led me to believe that they were skilled and capable of completing a project I desperately needed to complete. I paid them handsomely for it, foolishly, before receiving the completed project.

I spoke to a colleague yesterday who had fallen for a similar scam. As we sat there trying to work out how we fell for it. We decided it was because they said exactly what we wanted to hear but mostly because we didn't do our due diligence. Why didn't we do it?? Because we were too busy in our businesses to do it. We didn't feel it was necessary to do and that we should be able to trust the person and what they were telling us.

Due diligence can be as simple as speaking to objective people in the know. By asking one to two people though three or more is ideal, who you know have worked alongside or with this person, have had treatment or surgery, or invested in the person. Consider it; forewarned is forearmed."

Take your time to make your decisions, and as Ron Weber said, If it is too good to be true....it is probably a fraud.

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 0:58 The recent expose on ABC's four corners episode called; Cosmetic Cowboys
  • 2:19 Be aware of the Dramatization
  • 3:14 My reason for making this topic my inaugural episode
  • 3:55 Media Hype
  • 4:51 Survey: Can you tell the difference between real and fake news?
  • 5:50 Fake reviews
  • 6:35 The extent of our review that we are allowed to have
  • 7:12 Ahpra and TGA have strict advertising guidelines
  • 8:26 My Q: “If they’re willing to do something that’s illegal at this level, what else are they doing that perhaps they shouldn’t be?”
  • 8:40 Google reviews are another ball game and can also be incentivised
  • 9:31 “..go to drama school if you want to be an actor, performer or an influencer..”
  • 11:41 showing befores and afters of only one facial feature is unfair
  • 13:58 Do your due diligence